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Life Science Start-Ups: How to build your martech stack from scratch

Marketing technology helps to execute and enhance marketing campaigns that attract leads and engage prospects and is particularly useful for new life science businesses with time and talent in short supply. Marketing technology aka ‘martech’ assists in achieving marketing goals or objectives and can automate many marketing tasks as well as collect and store important data about leads and campaign performance.

Martech applications focus on customer experience, advertising, direct marketing, content sharing, marketing management, and marketing data and analytics.

With the martech landscape continually evolving and expanding, new and small companies can be easily overwhelmed by which option to choose. The key to selecting the right tech stack is not just about finding the right application for the task but extends to picking the best partnership.

Implementing and maintaining new systems in a startup company can be challenging and requires both the software and its users to be agile as the company grows and changes its needs.

 

Before you build your stack

Make sure you know what your company needs before you go ahead and implement technology. Follow these 3 simple steps:

 

1. Run an audit

Define the success of what you are doing currently including any software you are using and get feedback from staff. Ask others what software they have used before as it will be easier to implement something that people have prior experience of.

 

2. Define your technology needs

Develop a list of marketing requirements your company needs to carry out and what processes the technology could automate or speed up for you.

 

3. Make a shortlist

Check out the technology available to you (see our list below) and make a shortlist of both essential and desirable software. Make a roadmap for martech that you would want to add in the future as your company grows.

 

Create your martech stack

The below image depicts a marketing technology ecosystem. It is essential that all software integrates with the others to ensure a seamless and efficient experience. The martech should work in tandem - for example - a social media advert featuring a video would drive traffic to the website and also encourage people to fill in a form there to get a free trial, these details would then be stored in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and the information used for future marketing automation and email campaigns. The success of this process and customer journey can then be analyzed using analytics software.

Infographics_SciLeads.png

Below we highlight some great digital marketing software tools available on the market to help manage all areas of the marketing strategy including your website, content and social media deployment, email marketing and automation, digital advertising, graphic design, lead and customer management, as well as for analytics and project management. Please note prices are from Sept 2021, check the vendor’s website for up to date costs.

We have divided them into categories featuring ‘Splurge’ and ‘Save’ to suit all budgets.

 

Website

A website works as a digital shopfront and content hub and aims to attract traffic, convert visitors to leads and create sales. Ideally, the website would be integrated with your Customer Relation Management (CRM) software (more on this below) so that any information captured by the website (from contact forms, downloads, etc) is fed into the CRM and the relevant team member gets alerted.

Building a website can be outsourced to a design agency and you need to have a strong brief about what you want to achieve. The cost of this will be a few thousand dollars depending on the functionality you need, and with all websites, there is an ongoing monthly/yearly cost for hosting, maintenance, security, plugins, etc that needs to be considered. Even if you get the website built externally, in most cases you will do any regular content updates in-house. Alternatively, you can build your own website from scratch yourself using website building software.

The website builder you choose will be primarily determined by the functionality you need and whether it is to act as an eCommerce site that processes the sale of goods. You don’t have to be a coder to create a website (although it helps with some tools) as the software can do it for you.

Splurge:

Squarespace - $18-$50 per month

Squarespace is a great website builder for beginners as it does a lot of the technical stuff for you and there are lots of ready-made templates to chose from. It enables you to get a website up and running very quickly and requires no coding skills. Squarespace also has a lot of built-in apps such as eCommerce and Search Engine Optimization tools - which makes it a great user-friendly choice.

Save:

WordPress.org - $0

WordPress is a very popular website creator used by small and large businesses alike but you need to be aware that there are two different tools: Wordpress.org and Wordpress.com. The first one is the open-source website-building software, and it’s 100% free for anyone to use. All you need is a domain name and web hosting - which is where a cost comes in. It isn’t to be confused with Wordpress.com is a hosted blogging website created by one of the Wordpress.org founders and offers subscription tiers.

Wordpress.org is very versatile and has a wealth of features and plugins available to help you create your perfect platform from the ground up - It does, therefore, require a lot more work than some other platforms as you have to create everything from scratch but gives you the freedom to customize everything to your liking.

Also check out: Magento, Shopify, Intercom, Wix, Weebly, Instapage, Unbounce

Watch out for: With the exception of WordPress, most website builders make it difficult for you to migrate to another provider, so make sure your website choice will grow with your business and do everything you need it to.

 

Social media management

These tools are aimed at automating the process of posting across social media channels simultaneously and enable you to schedule your posts in advance. They monitor your audience’s engagement and will alert you when someone follows your page, comments on a post, or tags your company. These applications are great for teams as you can collaborate in one place and even track which messages have been responded to.

Splurge:

Sprout Social - $99 - $249 per month

This is a one-stop shop for managing your social media accounts and helps you to juggle posting across the platforms, as well as monitoring specific keywords. It is also very good for analyzing your data and can sort the results by demographic and geography to see what content is working for particular followers. It can also help your company respond to customers quickly by assigning messages to certain people in the team.

Save:

Hootsuite - $0 - $120 per month

One of the most popular platforms is Hootsuite and with a freemium version, it is a great place to start for new companies. Although most life science marketers will focus on Twitter and LinkedIn, Hootsuite has the added benefit of posting to YouTube too should you have any product videos, etc to share. Hootsuite also offers over 150 software integrations, many of which are free, to maximize its versatility.

Also check out: Uberflip, Tweet Deck, Acrolinx, Upland Kapost

A feature on our wish list: We get a lot of use out of social media management tools at SciLeads, but would love to find one that alerts us when one of our customers posts on LinkedIn so we can like and share it! We are still spending a lot of time scrolling through our news feed to see the latest content.

 

Email marketing and automation

These applications allow you to create and send great-looking emails as well as track and enhance their performance. You also have the ability to automatically send an email when someone signs up for your newsletter or downloads a resource. These tools are great for segmenting your audience and testing which email content or subject line is best through A/B testing.

Check out our blog ‘3 email marketing mistakes to avoid’ for top tips on sending great emails.

Splurge:

Hubspot - $0 - $3,600 per month

Hubspot has a number of features that span the whole marketing and sales spectrum, but one of its great assets is the email marketing function. The platform offers a simple drag and drop email creator that anyone can use as well as lots of templates to meet your brand’s needs. Also depending on your subscription level, you can make the most of personalization features, A/B testing, and smart send times. What really makes Hubspot powerful is its CRM function which allows you to track your customers, send emails from your business email provider, and create workflows to automate email replies - If a contact signs up for a free trial, the platform can send a scheduled sequence of emails to guide them through the sales funnel.

Save:

Mailchimp - $0 - $299

Probably the platform that most people think of when it comes to email marketing, Mailchimp is still going strong. It is extremely user-friendly and helps you easily create professional-looking emails to send to your audience in just a few clicks. The free version allows you to email up to 2,000 contacts per month, with the subscription levels adding in more segmentation, in-depth insights, and optimization functions.

Also check out: Pardot, Eloqua, Active Campaign, Getresponse, Sendinblue, Reply, Yesware

Watch out for: Email marketing platforms have features in place to ensure that people aren’t being ‘spammed’ so you must make sure that your email contact list is ‘clean’ - by this, we mean that you should only send emails to addresses that you know are accurate and that the people you are contacting have a legitimate interest in your product/service. If you don’t meet these standards the software will prohibit you from emailing anyone in the future.

All emails in the SciLeads platform are regularly qualified to ensure they are working - get a trial of the platform now and get a free data sample to try for yourself.

 

Digital advertising

Today this type of advertising goes far beyond banner ads as it is now possible to target people online based on their demographics, geography, previous search history, and behavioral patterns. These insights can then be used for search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), social media and pay-per-click adverts, retargeting, affiliate, mobile marketing, and more.

Splurge:

LinkedIn - cost may vary

As LinkedIn is a business platform and most professionals have a profile on this site, it is a valuable tool for life science marketing. The platform has a very useful advertising function that includes sponsored posts and Inmails that can be targeted at people in specific companies, job roles, and locations. The great thing about LinkedIn ads is that you can target people before they express any intent by showing adverts to a defined audience that meets your exact buyer criteria. Although LinkedIn can be pricier than some other paid advertising, it has the benefit of being the world’s largest professional network and it is to be expected that the cost of acquisition is around 30% of your customer’s lifetime value.

Save:

GoogleAds - cost may vary

With many people picking Google as their preferred search provider, it makes sense to advertise with this well-used platform. However, the downside is, unlike LinkedIn, the audience has to be actively looking for the search term before they will be shown the advert - called intent-driven searches. In life science marketing, the search results for the keywords you will be targeting are likely to be quite low, but that means the cost per click (CPC) will also be lower, so it is still a cost-effective way to advertise your business/product/service.

Also check out: Perfect audience, Centro, Xandr

 

Graphic design

As the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words - and graphic design goes a long way to solidify your company’s brand identity and ensure your marketing is eye-catching and engaging to the audience. There are plenty of agencies and freelance graphic designers out there, but there are also some great software tools for doing it yourself in-house.

Splurge:

Adobe Cloud - $33.99 or $79.99 per month

When it comes to professional design then Photoshop and Illustrator are the go-to apps for the design pros, but that is not to say that non-designers can’t use them. With plenty of online courses and how-to videos, it is easy to pick up the basics of the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite and you can ensure your social media posts, blog banners, and adverts are very high quality. One of the apps costs $33.99 per month alone so if you are going to use more than one Adobe app then it makes sense to get the full suite.

Save:

Canva - $0 - $260 per month

This application is a dream for the amateur designer as it comes complete with hundreds of templates for all needs from specific-sized social media cards to email newsletters and banner adverts. The free version is great for basics, but there are different tiers of pricing depending on your business size and number of users. The paid versions give you even more access to a wealth of photos, elements, and features such as transparent backgrounds and adding your brand colors. There is also a great collaboration function where designs can be shared and worked on by different people in the team.

Also check out: TechSmith, Animoto, GIMP, Pikochart, PicMonkey

Tip for getting pictures: Check out Unsplash and Pexels to get your hands on some royalty-free photographs, or Adobe Stock Images offers a free trial and has lots of templates, vectors, images, and animations.

 

Video

Video has become a powerful tool in marketing with its ability to engage both prospects and clients across multiple platforms. Small businesses can greatly benefit from using video to capture demos and visually explain the features and benefits of their products/services in order to attract, convert, and retain new customers. Similar to graphic design, capturing and editing video is something that can of course be done by a professional, but there is editing software out there that you can use yourself to get great results whether you are recording from a cell phone or camcorder.

Splurge:

Adobe Premiere Pro - $33.99 or $79.99

This is a professional-level video editing program and so it has everything needed to create high-quality marketing videos and a must if you are very specific about what you want your films to look like, but of course, some expertise is needed. If you know your way around the Adobe Creative Suite already then this would be a great app to add to your toolkit, plus the price for all the 20+ Adobe apps is $79.00 per month, whereas one app is $33.99, so it’s better value if you plan on using the rest of the Adobe suite.

Save:

Lightworks - $0 - $24 per month

Lightworks has long been a staple in the amateur videographer toolkit and although its interface might be slightly intimidating at first for a complete novice, it is a very powerful free video editing tool. In fact, it was used for some Hollywood blockbuster movies like Pulp Fiction, The Wolf of Wall Street, and LA Confidential. You can use it to trim a video to size or combine several short sections of footage before uploading them to YouTube or Vimeo (for embedding into your website) - although if you want other outputs you’ll need to upgrade to a subscription account. There is a helpful online community to help you achieve the results you require

Also check out: OpenShot, Blender, and ShotCut for video editing and Loom, Animaker, Clipchamp, and Giphy for gifs and animations.

Tip: If creating videos is a step too far for your business, you can still utilize other elements like gifs and animations to jazz up your static photographs.

 

CRM

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software provides a central hub for all interactions with leads and customers and can enhance the reliability of the sales and marketing processes. It can house your customer database and deal information, as well as give in-depth analytics on your marketing campaign performance.

Splurge:

Salesforce - $25 - $300 per month

As the world’s #1 CRM, it is a versatile and comprehensive solution for your contact management, reporting, sales enablement, and team collaboration needs. It also has a great AppExchange with plenty of software integrations - including SciLeads. It is a good choice if your business is set to grow substantially over the next few years.

Save:

Zoho - $0 - $45 per month

The Zoho CRM manages your sales, marketing, and support in one and is a solid choice for new/small companies that are looking for a more affordable solution. Zoho has a free tier that is ideal for startups and is companies that don’t have a dedicated IT department as the software is easy to deploy and maintain.

Also try Hubspot, Marketo, Insightly, Freshsales, Salesmate, Sharpspring, Pipedrive, Eloqua, Active Campaign, Optimove, Infusionsoft

 

Collaboration and project management

Marketing project management is essential in companies of all sizes but particularly in startups when there isn’t always a dedicated marketing team and you might be trying to juggle marketing with sales and other responsibilities. Plus in today’s climate, not everyone will be in an office together and an online tracking platform is perfect for remote teams. In marketing, there are so many elements to consider, from content creation to campaign monitoring, so it is important to be organized.

Splurge:

Basecamp - $0 or $99 per month

Basecamp helps with project organization as well as team collaboration and file sharing. It handles everything from emails to to-do lists and works across all devices. Marketing can monitor assignments, teams, deadlines, as well as any associated files. There is also an in-built chat tool so specific projects can be discussed in-app. This tool focuses on the communication element of project management. It has set pricing, so you either have the free version or the ‘all-in’ $99 a month version.

Save:

Trello - $0 - $12.50 per user per month

Trello creates a visual ‘to do’ list that enables teams to keep on top of their tasks and creates a coherent plan for project tasks. It is excellent for collaboration, especially in remote teams, and tasks can be assigned to specific people with deadlines. In each card, you can add descriptions, files, checklists, see the activity history and have a conversation in the comments section. You get a lot of functionality for the free version which is great for small teams. There are software integrations called ‘powerups’ so you can add in your other apps, such as an instant messenger like Slack, although some of these powerups carry a cost.

Also check out: Zoom, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Calendly, Microsoft Teams, Chilli Piper

Check out more great productivity tools in our blog Our picks: 8 sales team productivity tools.

 

Analytics

The use of marketing analytics benefits both the internal team and the customers as it enables the marketers to adapt their strategy based on the results, and helps the company provide a better service to the consumer. Every marketing task deployed should be analyzed to judge its success and then improved as required to improve its outcome - for example looking at email open rates and social media engagement and trying to improve their reach. Website analytics are also very important as they show whether the visitors are able to find everything they need on the site and how good the user experience (UX) is as they move through the site.

Splurge:

Matomo - from $29

Previously called Pikwik, it is a contender to the commonly used Google Analytics (see below) and differentiates itself by how your data is controlled - you host Matomo on your own server so the insights are only available to you, unlike remote-hosted services. When using Matomo the data is not shared with advertising companies and your analysis reports contain insights from the full data set, whereas Google Analytics uses data sampling to analyze large data sets in a more cost-efficient way. Matomo is a paid service so your money could be better spent elsewhere, but it is a good alternative to Google Analytics 360 which is used by larger companies.

Save:

Google Analytics - $0

Despite being free, Google Analytics is a sophisticated and powerful web analytics suite. Although the paid version, Google Analytics 360, is a hefty $150,000 per year (yes you read that right) the free version is more than adequate for your small business needs. Google is an internal analytics tool to help you understand the user behavior on your website solely, rather than compare it with competitors. It does however give you in-depth information on who is visiting your website, where they come from, how they travel through your website and where/when they leave (known as the bounce rate). There are plenty of online tutorials to help you get the most out of the analytics platform so you can track your marketing performance and optimize your website as required. Google analytics should be an essential part of your martech stack regardless of what other analytics tools you use.

Also check out: Adobe Analytics, Webtrends, Quantcast Measure, Woopra, and Flurry Analytics specializes in mobile apps. Kissmetrics and Mixpanel provide additional functionality that can be useful to conversion marketers.

 

Customer support

Good customer support helps to retain the people that your marketing efforts have acquired and helps to keep existing customers happy, which costs less than acquiring new customers. Many see customer service as the new marketing, particularly evident in the case of Amazon whereby providing a great service to customers sells itself. There are plenty of ways to automate and digitize the way customers can reach your company for example having automatic replies when a customer sends an email or social media message, or having a chatbot or live chat function for instant online help at their point of need.

Splurge:

Zendesk - $5 - $199 per user per month This has become a popular choice for support desk software, particularly in larger companies, and offers a suite of products including support tickets, live chat, phone support and knowledge base. Its live chat feature is particularly seamless as you can transfer the chat to another agent easily or invite them into the current chat. It has a great number of integrations, so it should fit in well with the rest of your tech stack. It also has a good infrastructure to train staff and support your business growth.

Save:

FreshDesk - $0 - $99 per user per month

Freshdesk has a simple dashboard and is very user-friendly and features the ‘Freshworks family’ filters which include customer support, live chat, CRM, recruitment, and call center capabilities. Freshdesk suits small businesses as it provides a helpdesk that is quick and easy to set up and integrates well with a number of common applications such as Slack and Trello.

 

Surveys

Knowing what your customers think about your business is paramount to how successful your marketing efforts are, and the best way to find out what they think of you is to ask! Online surveys have become a great way to gain customer feedback quickly and easily but they can also achieve much more for your company. They can track trends, provide more targeted insight, and uncover the highs and lows of your business.

Splurge:

SurveyMonkey - from $25 - $75 per user per month

Arguably this is the most well-known survey software on the market and its user-friendly interface makes it a popular choice. There are a number of templates to help you speed up the survey design process and a lot of customizable options. It provides a lot of great features from the varying question design available to seamless distribution and data reporting, although you will need to sign up for an annual subscription to get the most out of the software.

Save:

Hotjar - $0 - $99 per month Hotjar has a ‘question and answer’ survey function that can be sent to customers directly, but it also has the capability of asking for feedback when people visit your website - for example, you can have a yes/no survey on specific pages asking visitors if they have found what they are looking for, which allows them to elaborate if the answer is no. Hotjar also has many other useful functions besides surveys such as website heatmaps and session recordings. The free or $39 per month subscriptions are ideal for smaller teams and give you 3 or unlimited surveys per month, with the price going up depending on the heatmap features and number of visitor sessions to be recorded.

Also check out: Typeform, Google Forms, Survey Gizmo.

 

Building the best stack for your startup

While all these tools are effective on their own, their power multiplies when they are used together to create a seamless user experience and improve the marketing functions’ efficiency. When building your martech stack from scratch, you should take into account these 3 main factors:

 

1 - Who is your audience - B2B or B2C?

Although many marketing technologies will cater to both, some are more focused on one or the other.

 

2 - Will the technology grow with your company?

Will you be happy to change your technology if you outgrow it or something new becomes available, or would you prefer to have core applications with subscription tiers that you can move up as you need to? This answer will also depend on what IT professionals you have in place to implement the software.

 

3 - What is your budget?

There are lots of great free and low-cost software tools out there if your budget is limited, or you may decide to invest in more expensive applications that are more versatile or that offer more features or support.

Check out our blog on ‘how to get budget approval for your tech stack’ for more detail on the considerations required when choosing new technology.

 

Become a lead generation pro

The ultimate ingredient for all marketing software is high-quality leads - without them, your technology won’t have the ultimate return on investment (ROI). Fill your pipeline now with qualified life science professionals by utilizing the SciLeads platform. Explore its impact for yourself with a free demonstration and 30-day trial. We will also give you a sample database to feed into your marketing campaigns.

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